Lexus NX Review 2019

Find out more about the Lexus NX in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Relaxed hybrid powertrain
  • Bold styling
  • Excellent standard equipment

Cons

  • Uninspiring to drive
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Poor ride quality
  • MPG

    47 - 47

  • CO2

    137 - 137 g/km

Model Review

In late 2013, Lexus unveiled a bold LF-NX concept which previewed a forthcoming production mid-size SUV, although oddly the car utilised a turbocharged petrol engine, rather than a hybrid petrol-electric setup that Lexus was becoming accustomed to.

A production model would make its debut at the following year’s Beijing Motor Show. While it didn’t quite retain the LF-NX’s outlandish looks, the NX was still a radically-styled car, with an enormous grille up front and sharp creases down the side.

It was the Japanese manufacturer’s first step into the mid-size SUV market, with trademark Lexus L-shaped headlights appearing on the model.

At launch, a petrol-electric powertrain was available alongside a 2.0-litre petrol engine. The NX would also be the first UK production car to be fitted as standard with radar-controlled safety tech, too. It’s now one of the firm’s best-selling models in the UK.

The manufacturer has since decided to resort to a hybrid-only line-up.

Latest Model

To describe the latest NX as a facelift is perhaps going a step too far, as it looks identical to its predecessor, with most of the changes being underneath the surface or on the interior.

Unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the updated NX features a redesigned grille, a revised front bumper and new adaptive LED lights, while at the rear new light clusters feature alongside fresh alloy wheel designs.

The most notable change on the interior is a larger touchscreen which has been increased from seven to 10 inches. Various other elements of the interior were also moved around in a bid to give the NX a more user-friendly feel.

The model also gained Lexus Safety System+ —  a pack that includes a number of safety assistance features such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

Finally, the petrol engine was renamed from NX 200 to NX 300.

Value for money

In the premium mid-size crossover class, the NX manages to sit underneath many of its key rivals, notably the Mercedes GLC, Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60.

New prices start from £34,490, which is a couple of thousands of pounds less than many of the German offerings. However, this doesn’t compromise the standard equipment, as the NX gets a lot of kit included for the price including front electrically-operated and heated seats, LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels and satellite navigation to name but a few. As expected, top spec models aren’t quite as reasonable as they start to approach the £50,000 marker.

On the used market, NX’s start from £17,000 which can bag an early 2015 car with round 80,000 miles on the clock. Expect to pay around £20,000 for a well-specced NX with 50,000 miles on the clock.

The savings on nearly-new models aren’t quite as significant, although you can expect to save £4,000 on a six-month-old example with under 10,000 miles on the clock.

Looks and image

Lexus styling is something that you will either love or hate. The manufacturer utilises a huge metal grille, and while we think it looks sharp and has improved the look of the NX, design is always subjective. Both Sport and F-Sport models are particularly stylish, with each coming with unique design cues. Bold crease lines down the side of the NX also give the model a unique road presence, which is arguably more distinctive than other crossovers in the range.

The sharp styling doesn’t quite extend to the interior, which is not as racy as the exterior. That said, if you’re looking for a comfortable and luxurious interior then the Lexus is a fantastic choice. Everything is well-built and feels worthy of the NX’s price, although it perhaps doesn’t have quite the same quality as a BMW or Mercedes, nor would you expect it to given the significantly reduced price tag. The larger touchscreen is certainly an improvement over the last car, although it can be a fiddly system to operate.

Compared to rivals such as the BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace, the NX is a disappointing car to drive. There’s very little feedback from the steering and there’s next to no driving enjoyment, although for those simply wanting a comfortable motorway cruiser, it’s perfectly suited. The suspension setup is disappointing around town and it just can’t soak up potholes and bumps in the roads in a manner you’d expect from a big crossover. And while F-Sport models look incredibly stylish, the sportier suspension setup offered by the trim only makes this ride quality worse. It’s a bit of a shame as past Lexus models have been known for their superb ride quality. On the plus side, there’s little lean in the corners, and the hybrid powertrain offers a relaxed driving experience most of the time.

Space and practicality

For a car with big dimensions, it’s quite surprising how Lexus has managed to create an SUV with disappointing interior space.

Rear passengers at least get a great view of the road thanks to a high seating position, but this is at the expense of both legroom and headroom. There’s enough room for two adults in the rear, but fitting three can be a push, and taller adults will be scratching their heads on the roof. At least there’s no transmission tunnel (like in most cars) so there’s plenty of space for passengers to put their feet in the rear.

Boot space is also a bit limited —particularly compared to rivals —  but this is largely because a spare wheel is offered as standard which eats into the room on offer. A 475-litre load area should still be plenty for most drivers, although you can get up to 100 litres more in some of the NX’s rivals. Regardless, the NX’s boot is a good shape and you also have the advantage of a flat floor which adds an extra degree of usability.

As for safety, the NX performs well thanks to the standard-fit Safety System+ technology which brings assists such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, high beam assist, lane keep technology, and cameras that can detect road signs that you might otherwise miss. F-Sport and Premium models also benefit from blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, which helps when you’re reversing out of areas with obstructed vision. All this technology earned the NX a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Engines

Just one variant is available on the NX — a traditional hybrid powertrain, which is known as the 300h. It’s not a plug-in hybrid like the latest breed are, but rather one where the petrol engine helps to recharge the batteries on board.

It’s a 2.5-litre petrol engine paired to an electric motor to produce 195bhp. It’s paired to a CVT automatic transmission (as with a lot of conventional hybrids), and front-wheel-drive comes as standard, although Luxury, F-Sport and Premier trim levels automatically get all-wheel-drive. The hybrid system is very relaxing in normal and relaxed driving, although the CVT transmission struggles to keep up if you put your foot down. A 0-60mph time of 9.2 seconds is possible, with a top speed of 112mph.

The firm briefly offered a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but a low uptake forced the firm to cull the engine from the line-up.

Running costs

Most SUVs in this class still feature diesel engines to this day, so Lexus was quite ahead of the curve with the hybrid setup. While you might expect this to be cheap to run, it’s not quite as efficient as you might think – and no less thirsty than a similarly-powered diesel engine you would find in an Audi Q5 or BMW X3. Claimed fuel economy figures for the model are 48.7mpg in its most efficient guise, with CO2 emissions of 133g/km. It does represent an attractive proposition for business users, though.

Buyers should also be aware of models with a list price over £40,000 – certain F-Sport models and Premier versions – as all cars over this price new have to pay an additional £310 in road tax between years two and six, on top of the flat £130 fee.

Insurance groups are comparable with rivals, and very between groups 29 and 35.

Things to look for

Lexus has a superb reliability record, and frequently tops ownerships surveys – its dealers are also known for their excellent customer service. Even after four years on sale, there’s nothing that’s known to go wrong with the NX. The only thing to worth mentioning is that there was a recall in January 2017 for the electric parking brake.

Rivals

The premium mid-size SUV is quite a competitive class, with key rivals including the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Mercedes GLC and Volvo XC60. More left-field alternatives include the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and DS 7.

Depreciation

The Lexus won’t hold its value as well as the NX’s established German rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but it doesn’t depreciate at an alarming rate for its price, although there are plenty of great value examples for sale on the used market.

Which NX to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

300h 2.5 5dr CVT

Most MPG

300h 2.5 5dr CVT

Fastest Model (0-60)

300h 2.5 5dr CVT

Trims Explained

Entry-level SE is certainly not basic, and comes in at £34,490. As standard it features a 10-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Bluetooth and satellite navigation, as well as 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, a 10-speaker Pioneer sound system and auto-levelling LED headlights. The NX also comes with climate control, electric and heated front seats, LED rear seats, automatic lights and wipers and the aforementioned Safety System+ package.

S

With S models you get 17-inch alloys, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel, fabric interior trim, seven-inch media display with eight-speaker sound system and rotary control, CD player, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB/AUX connectivity, 60/40 split rear seats, LED daytime running lights and brake lights, electric windows and heated folding wing mirrors.

Prices for S start from £31,145 and is the only one in the range with two-wheel drive.

Summary

  1. Bold styling
  2. Superb equipment levels
  3. Hybrid-only line-up
  4. Uninspiring to drive
  5. Disappointing ride quality
  6. Plenty of standard safety kit
  7. Not as cheap to run as you might think
  8. Relaxed driving experience
  9. Good value for money, providing you avoid top-spec versions
  10. A commendable car, but there’s far better rivals in this class

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